Unix Server Management

Definition

Unix Server Management is the activity of managing and supporting servers running variants on the Unix operating system: for example, HP's HP-UX, Sun's Solaris, IBM's AIX, or any of the Linux variants (Red Hat, SUSE, Ubuntu, etc).

Typical tasks would include:

  • Designing technical architecture and setting standards
  • Installing new servers
  • Installing and updating software patches and/or new software releases
  • Monitoring the servers during daily operations, and acting on warnings or alerts
  • Resolving incidents and problems
  • Moving or changing the servers
  • Adding or maintaining user ids
  • Backing up the servers
  • Retiring and disposing of servers at end of life

Major Volumes

Counting the number of servers might seem a relatively simple task. In practice, it can be complicated in two situations.

For very large organisations who operate thousands of servers, such as large banks or telecoms companies, servers are added or retired each day. Counting the number of servers must therefore be done as a snap-shot on a particular day, since the actual number will fluctuate, usually upwards, as new applications are brought on-line.

The second complication applies to organisations who have implemented server consolidation or server virtualisation. This is a technology intended to reduce Total Cost of Ownership by running two or more operating systems on a single machine. When this is deployed, the number of operating systems can be substantially larger than the number of machines - easily 20% larger, and in extreme cases double or quadruple. It is therefore necessary to clearly distinguish between:

Minor Volumes

  • Number of Data Centres hosting servers (or would this be better as a percentage)
  • Number of non Data Centre locations hosting servers (ditto)
  • Number of server CPUs (also dealing with the "cores" problem)
  • Server capacity (eg SPECrate, tpm-c, SAPS, etc)

Costs

Cost Distribution

Hardware Costs

Software Costs

Personnel Costs

Staffing & Productivity

Outsourced Costs

Outsourced Prices

Service Level Agreements

Availability SLAs

Responsiveness SLAs

Process Quality

Other Metrics

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